A few years ago, I had a person ask me if this was the America I remembered growing up in. At first I had given him a short response, saying yes, it hasn’t changed much. But shortly after, I realized it has changed and I revised my answer to him. Today, I’m revising that answer again, just seven short years later. I remembered his question this week and I’ve tried to pinpoint what happened to the land that I love? Today, I realize how drastically our nation has changed! First I want to share some definitions of the word ‘freedom.’
- Exemption from external control, interference, or regulation.
- Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.
- An absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights.
- Political or national independence.
- The state of being free or at liberty.
Just looking at these definitions, I think we are no longer a nation of freedom, because the rights of some people are being held higher than the rights of other’s. I am applying this to the history and decisions of our nation. To be set free is to recognize what we have overcome. When our focus stays on the circumstances we once lived in, those things that oppressed us, we remain captive. There are facts, which cannot be erased from history – nor should they be. We can destroy all the symbols and memorabilia, but then we deny what shaped us into who we are today. How can we see how far we’ve come, if we don’t acknowledge what we’ve been set free from? This was attempted with Holocaust victims; there are some who denied it ever happened and some who have revised history. Fortunately, this movement has not caught on, but what will happen when there are no more survivors? Not that we should focus on their victimization, but we should celebrate that they overcame! We should also watch that it is not repeated. If we focus on what has happened to hurt, instead of what has happened to free us; then we remain victims instead of victors! As a nation, when we erase the wars we’ve fought and survived, we deny the victory of those who survived. We deny who we’ve become when we destroy the evidence.
Ask a victim of domestic violence who has escaped this torture and has been healed from those memories, if they are victims or victors. I am one of them, yet my attacker claimed to my face that he never hit a woman, even though my bruise was there for several months. What was I, if I am not a woman? He was expunged from any wrongdoing, because he had ‘friends’ in government that were able to get the charges dropped. But that did not lessen the damage he inflicted or his culpability. Thank God, I have not gone back into an abusive situation, but to deny that it ever happened, would be to deny who I have become. When we say that barbarous events never occurred, we invalidate those who have been violated, whether it is an individual or a group of people. They do not cease to exist and they do not forget how they were infringed, but they can move beyond those heinous crimes committed against them.
No, this is not the AMERICA I grew up in. I was taught our history; both the good and the bad. It was taught as an example of what could happen again. If we as a nation don’t hold to the principles of our founding fathers, then we are apt to replay the negative, or to return to the tyranny we escaped. The history I learned did not absolve those who sinned against humanity, it held them accountable. History taught us to not go there again. Wiping out the memories only strengthens the chances that it can repeat itself. Because, when we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are apt to repeat them. It may be a different set of people, who are targeted, or it could even be reversed, but it does not make it right. ‘An eye for an eye,’ never produced any winners.
I was also taught to respect authority. We did not backtalk our teachers or there were consequences at school and worse ones at home! There were disciplinary actions in both places! Now it has become almost heroic to defend every right, every move, every action, no matter how misguided, and these delinquent activities are celebrated in some groups. Everyone wants to debate and have their ‘rights’ even if it means denying the ‘rights’ of others.
When I grew up, mealtimes were started after everyone was seated and quieted, with the whole family at the table. We would say a prayer to bless our food and thank God for His provisions and pray for our leaders! We never left the table until everyone was finished eating, or we had asked to be excused. Our conversation during our meal was about our day, keeping each other informed. We were taught manners for eating with politeness. And we were taught etiquette in addressing our elders; such as saying, “yes sir” and “no sir” or “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” We called our friends parents Mr. or Mrs. unless they insisted otherwise. No “games” were played at the table unless they involved the whole family after eating. We didn’t have cell phones or electronic games. The television was not turned on until all the dishes were cleaned and put away. Television could be viewed without concern that children might see something inappropriate; there was no cursing, illicit sex, or the graphic killing of people shown. Much was left to our imagination. Children were able to go outside and play until dark because it was safe, now some are not safe in broad daylight! Most families went to church together every Sunday. Friday nights the whole town went to the football games during the season. Saturday mornings many locals met at the donut shop and discussed the game.
Men wore hats and took them off during the National Anthem and everyone put their hand over their hearts and revered the flag. Nobody spoke during this time of honoring our nation, from children, to teens, to adults. It was silent except for the performance of the anthem. People bowed their heads to pray at public events. School was started each morning when the whole class would stand with their right hand placed on their heart to recite: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
It was not uncommon for someone to pray in school for a person who had a family member who died or was in the hospital. There were no school shootings or the need for metal detectors to get into the buildings. They weren’t necessary! Most school functions were started with prayer: at sporting events, banquets, award ceremonies and graduation — and yes, it was a public school! No, this is not the America I grew up in! He got that right, I agree! I’ve thought about his question off and on through the years. Although I gave him a short quick response, I decided I had a lot more to say on the subject than my short counter to him. There are far more people who disrespect our nation and its history, whether good or bad. History is what defines us and shapes us into who we are today. It is a timeline of how far we’ve come as a nation. To erase history, is to deny the oppression of any people and their victories. The person who asked the question, was attacking me personally regarding an article I had written that he did not agree with. He stated it was not the America he grew up in and that people were calling him un-American, because he questions authority all the time.
When I thought of what he said, I realized we grew up with very different values! Yes, we are given ‘freedom of speech,’ but much of the mainstream media and politicians, pick and choose who has that ‘freedom of speech.’ and have taken it to an extreme to further their agendas. Where did our honor of country go? What happened to the ‘America’ that I grew up in? You might be surprised to find that the crime rates went up when prayer and the mention of God were taken out of school. You can look up the dates and do a comparative analysis. We accommodate other “religions” that chant and call for our death, we recognize beliefs that are antiChrist, and we protect terrorists. In schools we don’t prohibit other nations’ flags, but are starting to ban our own flag because someone finds it offensive?! Why has the Bible been removed from our places of education and workplaces? Who is defending the rights of Christians? Politicians took God out of America and school; let’s bring Him back! May God Bless America Again before we lose the America we once knew. ~ KMcA ©